The Conservatives better-than-expected election result has been dampened somewhat by CCHQ’s decision to reinstate a councillor suspended for comparing an Asian man with a dog last June in order to take control of Pendle council. Labour have been quick to go on the attack – accusing the Tories of abandoning decency in favour of a power grab.
However, Labour don’t have the monopoly on outrage over elected councillors. While the party failed to get the landslide it had hoped, there was one particular cause for celebration in Birmingham: Safia Alif Noor Akhtar, the party’s candidate in Birmingham Small Heath, ‘waltz[ed] to victory’ in the words of the local paper.
Mr S predicts a bright future in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. After Khalid Masood murdered five people including PC Keith Palmer in the March 2017 Westminster terrorist attack, Akhtar posted to her Facebook:
‘Can people relax and stop fighting on Facebook, sadly people died in Westminster today but people die everyday in Syria Palestine Africa Rohingya Kashmir.. Need I carry on?!! Grow up and stop pointing fingers!’
A few days later, she added: ‘So someone got stabbed after the attack last week as a result of media and government claiming that SO CALLED ISIS HAD CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY. There is no ISIS and there is no proof.’
She also ‘liked’ an article with the headline: ‘Egyptian state media claims 9/11 was carried out by West to justify war on terror’.
The law student eventually admitted she ‘should have chosen my words more carefully’ and ‘apologise[d] to anyone who found those comments offensive or upsetting’. Understandably, Akhtar was suspended. Only not as a Labour candidate – as a governor of her local primary school. What must Birmingham’s Labour MPs, those moderate stalwarts Jess Phillips and Liam Byrne, have made of it?
Err… they endorsed her. In February, a Labour leaflet went round Small Heath with the headline ‘Liam and Jess back the new team’. The two implacable foes of Corbynism smiled for the camera and assured voters that Akhtar ‘share[s] our view that in politics, it’s action that speaks louder than words!’ Asked why she was lending her backing to someone who had denied the existence of a misogynistic death cult, occasional feminist Jess Phillips replied: ‘She was selected by the members. She said stupid things. She has apologised. We have lots and lots of problems that we need to be concentrating on.’
What was that about actions and words, Jess?